Prom Night Promise

BY : Trillhouse
Category: +G through L > The Loud House
Dragon prints: 1438
Disclaimer: I do not own The Loud House, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Prom Night Promise

Chapter 1 - Heartache


 

It was past noon when Lincoln finally got out of bed. His joints popped and creaked in protest, and Lincoln had to stifle a groan. Everything ached; Lincoln winced in discomfort as his bare feet touched the floor. Even against the soft carpet, he had been off his feet so much lately that they had grown tender. Lincoln had to fight the urge to just lie down and go back to sleep, but even in his current state he could not fight the call of nature.

The hallway was quiet. Well, quiet by Loud standards, at least. Lincoln could hear Lola talking loudly from inside her room. It sounded like she was rehearsing for an upcoming pageant. That, or she was just playing pretend. Lisa and Lily's room was silent, but there was a purplish smoke emanating from underneath the door. Lincoln sighed, making sure to hold his breath as he passed.

Lincoln continued down the hallway, shuffling along gingerly on his sore feet. It was Sunday, so it made sense that things would be quiet. Good. The last thing Lincoln wanted right now was-

"Lincoln."

Lincoln nearly jumped out of his skin, clapping a hand over his mouth to stifle a scream. Lucy was poking her head out from her room, her expression blank as ever. Lincoln braced himself against the nearby banister, pausing a moment to catch his breath. "Darn it, Lucy… don't do that! I coulda fallen down the stairs!" He shot his younger sister a glare.

"…Sorry." Lucy mumbled a bit sheepishly. She hesitated a moment before speaking again. "How, um… how are you doing?" Lincoln's expression softened a bit. To most people, Lucy Loud came across as cold and uncaring… emotionless, even. But Lincoln knew her well enough to pick up on the concern in her voice.

"I'm fine." Lincoln said unconvincingly, doing his best to avoid eye contact. Even hidden by her bangs, Lincoln could feel her eyes darting across his exhausted form.

"I've been working on some new poems." Lucy said in a deadpan tone. What else is new, thought Lincoln, but he resisted the urge to say that out loud. "Would you like to-"

"Ah… maybe later, Lucy. Sorry." Lincoln appreciated her concern, but the last thing he wanted to do right now was listen to depressing poetry. For her part, Lucy didn't seem upset, and merely nodded in understanding.

"Okay." Lucy slinked back into her dark bedroom, shutting the door quietly before cracking it open once more. "…I'm here if you need me." The door clicked shut. Lincoln couldn't help but feel a bit guilty, but that only lasted a moment before the pressure in his bladder reminded him of the task at hand.

Luan and Luna's door was slightly ajar, and he could hear Luna strumming away at her guitar. The tune sounded familiar, but he couldn't quite place it; not that he particularly cared. Across the hall, he could faintly make out Lori and Leni talking about something in their room. '…should go for it. It'd be good for both of you, I think.' Lori said. He shrugged and entered the bathroom.

Lincoln couldn't help but let out a low groan of satisfaction as he relieved himself. He hadn't peed since yesterday, and for a few glorious moments all he could feel was the pleasant sensation of release. He gave himself a few shakes, flushed, and then headed to the sink to wash his hands.

One glance in the mirror was all it took to snap him back to reality.

Puberty had been kind to Lincoln Loud. Over the past two years he had shot up in height, and now stood just a few inches shorter than Luan. He still retained his wiry physique, but there was the faintest hint of musculature forming underneath his scrawny frame. His overbite, while still present, was nowhere near as prominent as it had been… 'The rest of him finally caught up to his teeth,' as his father would say. All in all, he was becoming a fairly handsome young man.

Which made the creature staring back at him through the mirror all the more jarring. Clad in dirty, unwashed pajamas, Lincoln looked and smelled terrible. He had big purple bags under his bloodshot eyes, and his hair was an absolute mess. His face was pallid and devoid of color, his lips dry and chapped. He ran his tongue across his parched lips. He hadn't even realized how thirsty he was.

Lincoln used his cupped hands to take several sips of water from the faucet, then splashed some into his face. The cold water felt frowned as he studied the face in the mirror. He found it ironic that the more he slept, the more tired he looked… and felt. No wonder Lucy looked so concerned, he thought to himself, before switching off the water and turning away from his reflection.

He glanced over at the shower. As much as Lincoln wanted to just go back to bed and sleep his troubles away, he figured he should at least shower first… after all, he was already here. Plus, the last thing I need is Lori jumping down my throat… Lincoln thought to himself as he turned on the water, letting it rise to a comfortable temperature before stripping down and stepping inside.

For five minutes Lincoln just stood there, letting the warm water cascade down his tired body. It felt good… rejuvenating, even. He closed his eyes and tilted his face towards the faucet. Lincoln felt better than he had all week, but he still couldn't wash away the empty feeling in his chest.

'I'm sorry, Lincoln… I met someone.' Lincoln kept replaying Ronnie-Anne's words in his mind. Almost one week ago exactly, she'd broken things off with him. Lincoln had been warned that long-distance relationships rarely work out, but he had convinced himself that he and Ronnie-Anne were meant to be. Lori and Bobby were a match made in heaven, after all… he'd assumed that his bond with the former bully was equally strong. But, no. After two years of stringing him along, she'd found herself another boy. One closer to her. More convenient.

Lincoln frowned. In truth, he couldn't be mad at her about it. She was thirteen now, same as him. It's natural that she would start wanting more than a long-distance relationship could provide. But that didn't make it sting any less. Sure, he'd handled it well at the time… telling her he understood, assuring her that they would still be friends… but as soon as the call ended, he felt lost.

Since then he'd holed himself up in his room, all but cutting himself off from the outside world. He had to go to school, of course, but the second he returned home he would run back upstairs and lock himself away in his cave. His sisters had tried to console him, but he just wanted to be alone and sleep his troubles away. Not that it helped much, of course.

Not helping matters was the timing. The school year was almost over, meaning Lincoln would have the entire Summer break to dwell on things. As much as he hated school, it at least served to distract him from the heartache somewhat… and with the McBrides sending Clyde to some sort of weird art camp for the summer, Lincoln had never felt more alone.

Lincoln sighed as he turned off the shower. Deep down, he knew he would get over this. He tried to tell himself that in the grand scheme of things, this was fairly insignificant; that there were plenty of fish in the sea and he still had his whole life to reel one in. But for now, his heart still hurt. And sometimes, you just have to let things hurt for a bit.

Lincoln finished drying himself and then wrapped a towel around his waist, bundling up his pajamas in his arms. Luckily, things were still quiet outside. Good, Lincoln thought, now I can just go back to-

"Hey, twerp." Lincoln froze, mentally kicked himself for jinxing it yet again. Lori was leaning against her doorframe, texting away on her phone as per usual. "Glad to see you're back among the living."

"…Good morning, Lori." Lincoln spoke with the most cheerful tone he could muster. That is to say, not very.

"'Morning', right." Lori said semi-sarcastically. Brunt as she was, Lincoln couldn't help but notice that there was less of an edge to her voice than usual. With the telltale 'swish' of a sent message, Lori lowered her phone and looked at her brother. "…How're you holding up, Lincoln?"

"I'm alright…" Lincoln did his best to avoid making eye contact. "Hanging in there, y'know." Lori frowned, clearly not convinced, but choosing not to press the issue further.

"Can you come in for a bit?" Lori asked. Lincoln knew Lori well enough to know that was more of a demand than a request. Still, the last thing he wanted right now was another lecture about moving on. "Not… to talk about that. Leni wanted to ask you about something." Lori added quickly, seemingly picking up on his discomfort.

"I'm not dressed," Lincoln replied. "Maybe later?"

Lori rolled her eyes. "Then go get changed first, sheesh." Before Lincoln could get in a word edgewise, she walked back into the room. "We'll be waiting," she said before shutting the door. Lincoln let out a resigned sigh before heading back to his room.

Doesn't even live here, but she's still bossing me around… Lincoln thought as he got changed into a fresh set of clothes. Lori had been attending college in the city, and while she lived in an on-campus dormitory, she liked to come home most weekends; partially because she missed her family, and partially because Bobby was too exhausted to spend much time with her. The two had been saving up for their own apartment in the city, and Bobby had been working his ass off at a multitude of part-time jobs. Though she missed being able to spend time with him, she knew there'd be plenty of time for that once they were on their own… which would hopefully be very soon.

Within a couple of minutes, Lincoln was back outside his oldest sister's room. Let's get this over with, he thought as he lightly rapped on the door. 'Come in,' he heard from inside, and so he did. He had barely set foot inside when he found himself swept up in a big, rib-crushing hug. "Linky~!" Leni cooed happily as her brother struggled in her arms.

"Le… ni… can't… breathe…!" Lincoln managed to wheeze out. Leni gasped out a quiet 'oopsie' and let him go. Lincoln took a few deep breaths before looking up at his sister. She smiled back at him with a warmth that only she could exude, and he couldn't help but return in earnest. "Good morning, Leni."

"Morning…?" Leni frowned, her face scrunching up in confusion. "Is it… morning?" She gasped in shock, turning towards her older sister. "Lori, did they change the morning?!"

Lori buried her face in her palm. "Leni, it's past noon."

"Oh… good." Leni breathed a sigh of relief before pouting at her brother. "Lincoln, don't scare me like that! It's totes uncool!" Lincoln couldn't help but chuckle softly. Leni's bubbly nature was as infectious as ever.

"Sorry, sorry…" He apologized. "Anyway… Lori said you wanted to ask me something?"

"Oh…" Leni snapped back to the task at hand. "Yes, I did." Leni cleared her throat and looked away, idly playing with a lock of her hair. "Well, it's… um… I was wondering if you would do something for me." Lincoln couldn't help but notice her shift in demeanor. Usually, Leni had no qualms about asking him for help with things, be it modeling dresses or accompanying her on a shopping spree.

"Leni, is something wrong?" He asked. Leni shook her head, then glanced over to Lori for support. Lori simply gave a small smile and a nod of encouragement, which seemed to calm Leni down a bit. Leni exhaled and looked at her brother.

"Wwwweeeell, Linky…" She began, giving him a gentle smile. "Are you doing anything next Saturday?" Lincoln shook his head, and Leni's smile grew slightly. "Well, you see, Saturday is senior prom."

"Okay…" Lincoln stated, not seeing what this had to do with him. Leni cleared her throat again.

"And, well… I don't have a date."

"Right…" Lincoln mumbled. Wait a second, he thought, as the gears began to turn in his head.

"Soooo I was thinking…" Leni began, twiddling her thumbs sheepishly. "It would be like… totes cool if you… came with me?" She looked at him expectantly. Lincoln said nothing for a few moments, his brain struggling to process the request. Finally, it clicked, and Lincoln felt his face growing hot.

"You're… asking me to be your prom date…?" Leni simply nodded, smiling brightly at him. Lincoln coughed, looking away from her. "Um… I'm your brother, though."

"Yep! The best brother in the world!" Leni replied, seemingly finding no issue with this. Lincoln smiled a bit from the compliment, but shook it off.

"Isn't that kinda… y'know, weird, though?" Lincoln added. Leni simply tilted her head in confusion. Lori, however, sighed.

"It's not like you're going on a romantic dinner, Lincoln… it's just the prom. People go as friends literally all the time, y'know?" Lori said flatly. Lincoln, however, was unsure.

"I… I dunno…" Lincoln scratched the back of his head. Shopping trips were one thing… he could handle a few hours of boredom while Leni tried on clothes. Hell, he'd even got used to modeling dresses for her, as embarrassing as it was. But this… this was uncharted territory. He was thirteen now… not a kid anymore. It was embarrassing enough when Leni kissed his cheek in public, but a date? Even if he wasn't depressed, he didn't think he would say yes. He was snapped out of his thoughts as Leni laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Linky?" She began, smiling softly. "It's okay… I'll understand if you don't want to." She gently squeezed his shoulder to reassure him. He looked up at her smiling face, and felt his heart sink slightly; he knew her too well. He could see the sadness behind her smile, feel it in her voice… and it took all his willpower to not say 'yes' right there and then. Instead, he forced a smile and took her hand in his, giving it a little squeeze.

"I'll… think about it, Leni." Leni seemed to perk up slightly at this, and gave him a small nod. "Talk to you guys in a bit, okay?" Lincoln bid the two farewell before exiting and returning to his room; as soon as he shut the door he rested his back against it, sliding to the ground as he let out a long sigh.

"Dammit, Lincoln… think. There's gotta be a way out of this." For several minutes Lincoln wracked his brain, trying to think of way to let her down gently. However, all he could think about was how sad she had seemed. He loved Leni… he loved all his sisters deeply, of course. But he had always been particularly close to Leni, and seeing her sad made his heart hurt. Lincoln groaned and massaged his temples. What am I gonna do…?

Finally, he got to his feet. He couldn't figure this out on his own… he needed an outside opinion. Snatching his phone from the desk, he dialed up Clyde before sitting down on his bed. It rang for a few seconds before Clyde answered.

'Y'ell- dang it!' Lincoln stifled a laugh, knowing that Clyde must have dropped his phone. 'There we go… y'ello?' Clyde sounded off-center; from the muffled sounds of Turbo Fighter in the background, Lincoln assumed he must be using his shoulder to hold the phone in place.

"Hey Clyde," Lincoln said. "Careful. I don't think your dads will be so quick to get another replacement phone so soon."

'Don't worry about it, I got this. I'm a master of multita- darn it.' Lincoln laughed as another thunk echoed through the phone. Finally, he heard the tell-tale blip of a pause screen before his friend picked up the phone again. 'Don't say a word,' Clyde began, sounding a bit flustered. 'Anyway, what's up buddy? How're you… y'know, doing?'

"Eh… same, I guess…" Lincoln sighed. "But I'm not calling about that. I needed your opinion on something."

'Go on.' Said Clyde, in what Lincoln could only assume was his best Dr. Lopez impression.

"So…" Lincoln began. "Leni asked me to go to senior prom with her."

'Like… as her date?'

"Yeah…" Lincoln cringed slightly. "I really don't want to go, but… I don't think I can say no without upsetting her." Lincoln could hear Clyde humming in thought.

'Why don't you tell her you already have plans?'

"Too late for that…" Lincoln grumbled.

'Well, why don't you want to go?' Clyde asked. Lincoln frowned. He'd assumed the reasons would be self-explanatory.

"Because she's my sister, Clyde." Lincoln replied, a hint of exasperation in his voice. "It's… weird. And besides, it's all high-school seniors… I'd stick out like a sore thumb!"

'Well I dunno…' Lincoln could hear Clyde rubbing his chin in thought. 'I mean, isn't it pretty common for people to bring family members as their prom date? Like, their mom? At least, that's what TV taught me.'

"Yeah… losers." Lincoln stated sarcastically. Clyde chuckled.

'We are losers, though.'

"Bite me, Clyde."

'Anyway, I don't think you should worry about that. It's your older sister taking you, right? If anything, it's cute.' Lincoln opened his mouth to retort, but he had to admit Clyde had a good point. Girls were held to a different standard than boys, after all. 'And that aside,' Clyde continued, 'This is too good of an opportunity to pass up.'

"How d'you figure?"

'Think about it, Lincoln. Senior Prom! You're getting a free practice run years ahead of time!' Clyde said enthusiastically. Lincoln's eyes widened; Clyde was absolutely right.

"Damn, Clyde. You're a pretty smart guy, y'know that?"

'I try,' Clyde responded with a hint of smugness in his voice. 'So, you're gonna do it?' Lincoln thought for a moment. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to be sure. He wasn't a senior… there were no expectations of him. He could use this chance to learn and prepare himself for the real thing. He could avoid another disaster like the Sadie Hawkins dance.

And just then, everything came rushing back to him. The Sadie Hawkins dance. Ronnie-Anne. Their 'date' at the arcade. "I…" Lincoln began, the empty feeling in his chest returning. "…I don't know. I mean, you're right. It's a good opportunity. But I just… I don't know if I can. Without her…"

For a few moments, neither said anything. Finally, the uncomfortable silence was broken by a loud growl from Lincoln's stomach. He hadn't realized how hungry he was. "A-anyway," Lincoln coughed. "Thanks, Clyde. I'll think about it."

'Anytime, man. And Lincoln… I mean that. Anytime you wanna talk-'

"I know. Thanks, Clyde. You're the best." And with that, Lincoln hung up. He sighed as he set the phone aside. Somehow, he felt both at ease and more conflicted than before. Another pang of hunger snapped Lincoln out of his daze; he needed to eat.


Lincoln was relieved to find that the ground floor was just as quiet as the upstairs had been. He quickly prepared himself a peanut butter and sauerkraut sandwich with less care than usual, and couldn't help but take several huge bites before he had even sat down. His stomach finally settled, grateful for the sustenance.

"I don't know how you can stomach that crap," Lori said suddenly, making Lincoln nearly jump out of his seat.

"You been taking lessons from Lucy?" Lincoln grumbled, earning a chuckle from Lori. As she stepped into the kitchen Lincoln noticed she had her bag slung over her shoulder. "You're heading out?"

"Yep," Lori said as she got a water bottle from the fridge. "Gotta leave now if I'm going to get back before dark." Lincoln frowned. It wasn't lost on him that making a three-hour drive to and from the city so often must be exhausting. Though she could be a bitch at times, there was no denying that she loved her family. "Anyway," She began, "Have you made up your mind?"

"No, not yet…" Lincoln mumbled through a mouthful of his sandwich, earning him a look of disgust from Lori. He swallowed before continuing. "I… dunno. Clyde made a few good points, but it's just hard right now, y'know…?"

Lori frowned. With a sigh, she set down her bag and took a seat next to Lincoln. "Lincoln… you can't let this eat at you forever, you know?" Lincoln looked away, taking another bite of his sandwich. "I know it hurts, but you can't just shut everything else out. The more you mope around dwelling on it, the worse you're going to feel."

"Wait, isn't that what you do…?" Lincoln asked, cocking an eyebrow. "Like, every time you and Bobby have a fight?" Lori's cheeks reddened slightly.

"…Look, sometimes it's better to do as I say, not as I do. Besides…" She leaned close, muttering to Lincoln quietly. "It's… not just for your sake, y'know?"

Lincoln swallowed another bite of his sandwich. "What d'you mean?"

Lori frowned; she glanced around to make sure they were alone before continuing. "Look… this is just between us, but Leni's been… struggling, lately." She said softly. "She's lonely."

"Lonely? Here?" Lincoln asked incredulously, earning him a light punch on the arm.

"I'm serious. Look, Lincoln… literally ever since Leni was born, I've been there for her. Every time the thunder kept her awake, I was there. Every time she needed a shoulder to cry on, I was there. But now…" Lori sighed, a wistful expression on her face. "…I can't be there. Not like I was before."

Lincoln frowned. He had no idea Leni felt this way, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense… she had always depended on Lori, more so than any of the others.

"And there's another reason," Lori added. "Remember last year…? Junior dance?"

"Ugh… how could I forget? Poor Leni…" Lincoln sighed. Leni had been so excited. She had made her own dress by hand and everything. And then, just a few days before the dance, Chaz broke up with Leni. To this day, Lincoln wasn't sure why… things seemed to be going well, and by all accounts, Chaz was a great guy. But needless to say, she skipped the dance, and it took Lori the entire weekend to cheer Leni up enough to even speak to her.

"She needs this, Lincoln. She deserves this. And she wants to go with you." Lori put a hand on Lincoln's shoulder and squeezed lightly. "I know you're not too keen on the idea, and ultimately, the choice is yours. But… if not for yourself, at least do it for Leni's sake."

Lincoln felt a pang of guilt. Lori was right; Leni did deserve this, and not just because she missed out last time. Leni was the sweetest person he knew, and she'd done more for him than he could ever hope to repay. Heck, she had been the first one to try and comfort him when Ronnie-Anne dumped him. If a few hours of his time could make her happy, who the hell was he to say no?

"…Alright." Lincoln said at last. "For Leni." He looked at Lori with a forced smile, only to receive the biggest, most earnest grin from her he had seen in years. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him into a tight hug.

"Thanks, bro." Lori muttered, planting a kiss on the top of her brother's head. "You're literally the best."

"Q-quit it!" Lincoln snickered, his cheeks flushed. He couldn't help but smile for real now. Lori's displays of affection were still rare enough to feel meaningful to him. Lori gave him a playful noogie before letting him go.

"Alright, twerp." Lori said as she got to her feet. "I'll see you next weekend. Say bye to the girls for me, 'kay?"

"Bye, Lori," Lincoln said with a grin. "Drive safe."

Lori smiled. "Always do. Love you."

"You too." Lincoln replied.

"And thanks again," Lori added as she walked out the door. "This means a lot to her. And me."

And with that, she was gone. Lincoln still had a smirk plastered across his face. He felt… ok, for the first time in days. He was still a bit apprehensive, of course, but he pushed those feelings aside as he returned to his sandwich. I'm sure I've dealt with worse, he told himself as he ate. And who knows? Maybe it'll be fun.

After finishing his sandwich and putting his plate with the rest of the dirty dishes, Lincoln headed back upstairs, psyching himself up along the way. You got this, Lincoln thought. You're Lincoln Loud! You're cool. You're confident. He grinned smugly to himself. And who wouldn't kill to have such a cute girl as their date? Lincoln stopped, shaking his head. Whoa. Back it up, Lincoln. He chuckled, brushing the thought aside.

Soon, he was standing before Leni's bedroom door. As he raised his hand to knock, he found himself hesitating. What are you waiting for? You promised Lori. You can't back out now! Finally, he took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

"Come in~!" Came the reply in a sweet, sing-song voice. Leni was lying on her bed with her head hanging off the end, reading a fashion magazine… upside down. She smiled brightly as Lincoln entered. "Linky! Thank gosh you're here. This magazine's in, like, French or something and I can't read it!"

Lincoln's palm audibly smacked against his forehead. He gingerly took the magazine from her hands, flipped it around, and handed it back to her. She looked back at the magazine with narrowed eyes, saying nothing for several moments as the gears turned in her head; if Lincoln didn't know better, he would have sworn he could hear a dial-up tone. Finally she gasped, her eyes going wide. "I can read French?!" A swing and a miss. Lincoln couldn't help but laugh, more with her than at her; even at her ditziest, she never ceased to be endearing.

"So, Leni…" Lincoln cleared his throat. "About what we talked about earlier…"

"Ooh!" Leni gasped, practically scrambling to her feet. She smoothed out her dress the best she could before clasping her hands together in a girlish manner, staring into her little brother's eyes with a hopeful gaze. "Yes~?"

"Well-" Lincoln began, only for the words to die on his lips. His cheeks felt hot, and he had a lump in his throat; I'm nervous, he thought. Why am I nervous?! He looked up into Leni's eyes. He had to admit, she was beautiful. He was about to ask a beautiful girl to the prom. If she weren't his sister, he'd never be able to work up the nerve to talk to a girl like her. Somehow, that thought troubled him. "Um…" He stammered. Leni waited for him to say something. He could see the expectation in her eyes.

He could see that expectation falter.

Lincoln swallowed the lump in his throat. He drew his feet close together, standing upright and puffing out his chest. He breathed in sharply through his nose, then exhaled; if he was going to do this, he was going to do it right. Even if it made him look like an idiot.

"Leni Loud!" He stated firmly, earning a soft gasp from Leni. "W-would you…" Lincoln extended his hand, offering it to her. "Do me the honor…" Leni's eyes sparkled in realization, and a wide grin was already spreading across her face. Lincoln's face, however, was burning hot, and it took all of his willpower not to break eye contact. "O-of accompanying me to the pr-"

"YES~!" Leni shrieked, sweeping Lincoln into a tight hug. Lincoln could feel his spine pop in several places, and he could only wheeze as the air was forced from his lungs. "THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE~!" Leni gave him a big kiss on the cheek before dropping him to the floor in a heap.

"Don't… mention it…" Lincoln managed to cough out between gasps of air. Leni paid him no mind; she was on cloud nine.

"Omigosh!" Leni realized, "I need to start planning! I-I need a dress, I need shoes… ooohhh Linky, thank you sooo much…!" Lincoln smiled. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen her so happy.

"Well, I guess it's a date, then." Lincoln said sheepishly.

"It's a date." Leni giggled, practically bouncing with excitement. She hugged him again, thankfully gentler this time. "It's going to be fun. I promise." Lincoln smiled as he returned the hug. Somehow, he believed that.



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